For some reason, I’ve been binging on videos of Christopher Hitchens today and yesterday1. Now, the man did not always play fair, and was not above a cheap shot or two, but even if I don’t admire his oratory mastery as much as his fans in the YouTube comments, I’m in awe of his patience and his courage. The people he had to deal (or debate) with! Such ignorance, when not bigotry, under the guise of some righteous sense of being offended!
However, these old debates and interviews were probably not a strong enough distraction from the current flame war in the Rails-adjacent community (the one that started with the removal of TypeScript from Turbo). This is irrational, but all the drama that is currently unfolding pains me. It makes me sad. And, just like with a train wreck, I cannot look away.
So I’ve spent a stupid amount of time reading threads on social media, discord servers, and pull requests, and all I get from this is a feeling of alienation. I see people reacting passionately, or at least intensely, and I cannot understand why. Putting aside the trolls would only like to sustain chaos for chaos’s sake (sometimes funnily, I must admit), there must be a reason why sane people, some of whom I have a good opinion of, brandish their pitchforks and use them to stroke the fires of online outrage – posting provocative manifestos, or encouraging the splitting of communities, for example.
I find these reactions absurd, mean, and childish. But I cannot believe that so many developers are stupid, mean, or immature. Which means that these reactions must be logical and consistent from their perspective. Which means that there is a gap, somewhere, between the way I (and others, I hope) see the world, and how these people see the world[^2]. And this pains me a lot.
It also echoes the recent kerfuffle over Justin Searl’s blog post on generational divides between programmers, or this funny piece in the NY Times about the youngsters’ scorn for Gen-Xers. So far, I’ve never had any issue connecting with people 5 years, 10 years, or 15 years younger than me; but now it seems like the people I’m sharing the world with just don’t see it the way I do, and vice versa. It worries me.
I will probably take a break from social media, and go re-read God Is Not Great instead.
I did not realise that his passing was 12 years ago already. Where have all these years gone? ↩